When weight matters

When weight matters

When was the last time you checked your body mass index? The revelation that a BMI above 30 is a recipe for disaster will shock you and will force you to head straight to the doctor’s. A person with a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.

Obesity is a gateway to a host of lifestyle disorders including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. If you are pregnant, excess weight may lead to short and long-term health issues for you and your unborn child. Losing excess weight and maintaining a normal BMI may help you and your loved ones stay healthier as you grow older. Excessive weight gain may increase the risk of the following health problems:

Diabetes

There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes such as age, race, pregnancy, stress, certain medications, genetics or family history, high cholesterol and obesity. However, the most likely cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity. Almost 90% of people suffering from type 2 diabetes are overweight. Obesity puts pressure on the body’s ability to produce insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Blood pressure

When there is increase in weight, the blood vessels have to take a lot of effort to move the blood around the body. When the weight gain is in the abdominal area there is a greater risk for high blood pressure because this type of fat is more likely to cause the arteries to thicken and stiffen. When the blood vessels stiffen, it is harder to push the blood through. When it gets hard to move blood around the body, there is an increase in adrenalin. This will cause salt retention and increase blood pressure.

Cancer

Fat cells in the body are active and produce hormones and proteins that are released into the bloodstream and carried around the body. Because they are spread through the circulation, these ‘chemical messengers’ can affect many parts of the body, and increase the risk of several different types of cancer. Fat cells can also attract immune cells to body tissues. These immune cells release chemicals that cause inflammation.

Sleep apnoea

This is a serious disorder, in which breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. It also brings down the level of oxygen in the blood and can keep you awake at night. The most common cause of sleep apnoea in adults is obesity, which is associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. During sleep, when throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed, this soft tissue can block the airway.

Osteoarthritis

Excess body weight can put extra stress on your joints, especially those in your knees, making it a major risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. For every kilogram of weight gain, you’re adding pressure on your knees. Weight loss and a regular exercise regimen can help prevent osteoarthritis.

Infertility

In women, early onset of obesity causes irregular mensuration, chronic oligo-anovulation and infertility. Obesity in women can also increase risk of miscarriages and impair the outcomes of assisted reproductive procedures and pregnancy. Excess insulin and insulin resistance are major contributors for this problem. The adverse effects of obesity are specifically evident in polycystic ovary syndrome.

In men, obesity is associated with low testosterone levels. In men who are overweight, reduced spermatogenesis associated with severe hypotestosteronemia may cause infertility. Moreover, the frequency of erectile dysfunction increases with increasing BMI.

Combining exercise with a healthy diet is a more effective way to lose weight rather than just cutting down on calories.

(The author is director, surgical gastroenterology, bariatric & minimal access surgery,
BLK Super Speciality Hospital)

 

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